Moulthun Ly continued his outstanding Olympic form with a convincing victory at the record-breaking Tuggeranong Vikings Open last weekend.
In his final tournament as a 20-year-old, Brisbane's Ly - the only Cambodian-born player ever to achieve the International Master title - dominated the ACT's final Grand Prix tournament of 2012, winning his first six rounds before offering a courtesy draw to a much weaker opponent in the final round.
Along the way, Ly defeated fellow IMs George Xie and Vladimir Smirnov in a smooth positional style which probably left both opponents wondering what they had done wrong.
Ly, like Australia's top players Zhao Zong-Yuan and David Smerdon, has only competed intermittently in 2012 due to university commitments but, unlike Zhao and Smerdon, Ly has managed to improve his rating and is now challenging for the No. 3 position in Australia.
Xie, recovering from a form slump, hung on to second place, good enough to keep him in the lead in the Australian Grand Prix. However, the winner of the 2012 Grand Prix is likely to remain undecided until the final event of the year, Melbourne's Christmas Swiss, with Xie's main rival being Max Illingworth.
Tuggeranong Vikings 2012
White: M. Ly
Black: G. Xie
Opening: Queen's Gambit Accepted
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 a6!?
A curious move which, by threatening to hang on to the gambit pawn, aims to induce 4.e3. Ly, however, is not to be bluffed.
4.Nc3!? dxc4 5.e3 b5 6.a4! b4! 7.Nb1 Nf6 8.Bxc4 Bb7 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Nbd2 c5
Black is now very comfortable, with a position first seen in the 1934 world title match!
11.Qe2 Qc7 12.Nb3 cxd4 13.Nbxd4 Ne4 14.Bd2 Nxd2 15.Nxd2 Bd6 16.Rac1! Qd8
16…Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Bd6 18.Bxe6 Nc5! was scary but also playable.
17.Qg4 Nf6 18.Qh3 0-0 19.Be2 Be5 20.N2f3 Bxd4 21.Nxd4 Qa5 22.Nb3 Qe5!
Keeping up the pressure. 22…Qxa4? 23.Nc5 Qc6 24.Bf3 Nd5 25.Bxd5! would be unfortunate.
23.Nd4 Rac8 24.Bf3 Ne4 25.Qh4 Bd5 26.Bxe4 Qxe4?
Now only White has chances. After 26 … Bxe4, Black has nothing to fear.
27.Qxe4 Bxe4 28.f3 Bb7 29.Nb3! Bc6?!
29…Rfd8 avoids the bind which follows.
30.Nc5 a5 31.Rfd1
Now Black has nothing to do while Ly advances his forces.
31…g5 32.e4 h5 33.Kf2 Kh7 34.b3 Kg6 35.Rd6! Rfd8
36.Nxe6! was threatened.
36.Rxd8 Rxd8 37.Ke3 Rc8 38.Nd3! Kf6 39.Rc5! Bd7 40.Ne5!!
Now White wins material without allowing any counterplay.
40…Rd8 41.Rxa5 g4 42.Nxd7+ Rxd7 43.Rb5 gxf3 44.gxf3 h4 45.Rxb4 h3 46.a5 Ra7 47.Rb5 Rc7 48.a6 Rc2 49.Ra5 Rxh2 50.a7 1-0
■ Last week brought the sad news of the death of Elena Akhmilovskaya at the age of 55 due to cancer.
Having unsuccessfully challenged Maya Chiburdanidze for the Women's World Championship title in 1986, Akhmilovskaya came to world attention two years later at the Thessaloniki Olympiad when she eloped with the US captain, John Donaldson, just before the final round.
The following year she returned to the USSR - with US consular assistance - to take her seven-year-old son back to Seattle.